I don’t know how anyone ever taught without the internet: it’s an endless treasure trove of lesson ideas and resources to make the curriculum come alive for the kids of this millennium. Today I’m sharing some of my favourite sites, and others that have been recommended by friends. Almost all are free for teachers; a couple may have a fee for parents who want to sign up.
Online Egg Timer
This is a great visual to help kids understand how much time is left for an activity.
Our kids particularly love following the Maximo videos, but there’s everything here: curriculum-related movement activities, mindfulness and favourite songs and dances.
This has fantastic SmartBoard lessons and follow-up activity information for curriculum-connected science topics from Kindergarten to Grade 5. There is a fee, but you can sign up to get your first year free – definitely worth it!
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Readers include Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones, Betty White and dozens more.
I’m guessing you’re familiar with this site, but wanted to share some of the things I use it for: I always have a morning video playing as kids enter, put their communication bags away, sign in and head to the carpet. I choose videos to go along with something we’re studying – weather, patterning, Halloween, etc. I also use it frequently for read-alouds and dance videos, as well as our free play Clean-Up song (I just use the music; not the video).
Jack Hartmann also has some great interactive videos, like this uppercase Alphabet Workout:
Handwriting Worksheets Maker
I was so excited when I found this site, because it helped me quickly and easily give my kinders resources to help them learn to print their names. Just type in the name and the sheet is generated – it even indicates where kids should begin on each letter. (I recommend they use a thin marker or highlighter rather than a pencil so they can easily see their progress as they trace.)
My key use for this site is having students come up to the SmartBoard to trace designated letters or numbers with their fingers or the pens; it works well as an activity during centre or playtime. (You could also use this on an iPad.) The site has many other literacy and math activities along with memory and matching games, but be forewarned that it’s a UK site so the money activities aren’t applicable to us.
For Grade 3 Social Studies this is an amazing site for the SmartBoard or for kids to use for individual/partner research on computers or tablets, with interactive games and printables should you want them. While I certainly haven’t vetted the entire site completely, I do like that there is a section on Aboriginal Peoples, including a great page detailing the many things they taught the settlers.
Online Virtual Dice
This is a recent discovery, helpful for flashing numbers at the kids to help them with subitizing.
You can access a huge number of files for your SmartBoard here, and I must say that the one I have used the most is a Calendar file created by a teacher I’ve never met (Alexandra Axelrod of Spotswood Elementary) which I’ve used every day since I moved to Kindergarten. (I would be happy to email it to you; just send me your address!)
I just wanted to note that I am aware we are discouraged from spending time on calendar in the Ontario kindergarten program, however I would be happy to justify why we use this file and how I think it benefits the kids. While knowing the days of the week, yesterday’s/tomorrow’s day, etc., is arguably something 4-year-olds aren’t ready for, it’s only a tiny fraction of what we talk about daily during our morning routine. Even more valuable are the patterning, counting and graphing skills that are regularly reinforced in a whole group – where students can learn from their peers, and those who are ready for more can be challenged – in 5 minutes a day. (P.S. We are getting VERY close to the 100th day of school!)
Now you may be thinking, “This is all great for primary/junior students…but what about older kids?”
For that, I turn things over to a high school teacher friend, Lynn Kelly, for her suggestions (which are not just limited to big kids):
- I like to use Padlet for collaborating with students or staff. Anyone with the link can post ideas, and you can change the background, post images, etc. It’s a great way for people to access and share the information at different times.
- Another site that is great for reviewing is Quizlet. You can personalize activities with your own content, or search by theme and use one of the thousands already created. There are different types of games and quizzes.
- An old favourite for making all different types of puzzles is Puzzlemaker. You can make crosswords, word searches, mystery word/phrases, etc., using your own content.
- Another really fun site for creating animations (my French students use it to create advertisements) is Powtoon. You can use templates, graphics, animations, music, etc., for free, and personalize by adding your own text, images, and audio recordings. You create slides, controlling how long they appear and how transitions, etc., occur, and then play as a complete video. The final product can be shared via a link or posting as a YouTube video. The kids love using it. My daughter even created a book report using it in grade 3!
Some other recommendations from friends and followers:
- Nicole Graham suggests “Art For Kids Hub. They have a lot of free things, and they’re on YouTube as well. I love their art classes for young children.”
- Brandee Lane says, “I love Epic – Books for Kids. My students are always excited to discover new books on it. Teach Your Monster To Read is also great (both app and site). Prodigy Game is awesome and Starfall is great too!”
- Diane Wilkinson says, “Link To Learning has weblinks and information for every grade, every subject area so it’s great for research projects or information for everyone. It isn’t kept as up to date as it used to be, but is a safe ‘go to’ for a start to lots of great resources.”
- Crystal Connell recommends “IXL. I like it as a parent because it follows the school curriculum and rewards the kids for participation.”
- Jen Herlihey suggests Teachers Pay Teachers for resources.
- Laura recommends LD@School (supporting students with learning disabilities), Paula Kluth (promoting inclusive schooling), and Edutopia (from the George Lucas Educational Foundation).
- And for those parents and teachers who need resources en francais,
Annie Claude Valois recommends you check out Alloprof.
What are your favourite educational websites? Please, please, leave a comment to let us know what we missed. It’s always great to find a new resource!